As with road trips, you may run into detours, potholes, and traffic; sometimes you just need to take a break to refuel. Image: Thinkstock.
I urge you to set your GPS to self-love.
Content notice: fatphobia, eating disorders/disordered eating.
Have you ever been on a seemingly endless road trip and asked yourself: Am I there yet? ...only to realize that your GPS says you have about eight more hours before your reach your destination?
At that point, you probably felt like you were never going to reach the end of your journey, but even though you couldn't see the end point, you still kept going.
The journey towards body acceptance and self-love often feels the same.
When you set out on this journey, you can't always see the other side. Often, you are so engulfed by your old thought patterns and behaviors around body and food that you may not even be able to imagine your life being another way. You know it is possible, because you see it in other people, but you can’t necessarily see yourself living that way — at least not yet.
On top of that, sometimes you have to just keep going. As with road trips, you may run into detours, potholes, and traffic; sometimes you just need to take a break to refuel.
If there is one thing I want you to know about the journey to stepping into your most radiant, badass self, it is that sometimes the journey is messy as hell.
It can be all over the place, and often there will be moments where you feel anything but positive.
You may feel overwhelmed, anxious, scared, and sad. Of course there will be moments of empowerment, happiness, celebration, and gratitude… but it doesn’t always look like that.
I love the body positive movement, but sometimes when you look at it from afar, it can seem that it is all unicorns and rainbows.
Sometimes it is, but sometimes there are hard moments. Letting go of your past mindset is hard, and growing pains are a real thing in this journey.
It is like giving birth to the real you, contractions and all.
You may have moments where you feel super motivated and set yourself on cruise control; and other moments, you might feel like you are in dead-stop traffic and wonder if you are even moving… forgetting that you are still inching forward (or at least not going backwards)!
Sometimes you may discover that the path you had all planned out requires a detour for you to really uncover your body-woes and issues with food, because if I am being super honest with you, real change requires more than surface-level work. It can get you in a tizzy if you are used to having control, and realize that a lot of this journey is about slowly letting go and just — being.
You may find yourself relying a lot on the unseen and not-yet-known. That can be scary for a chronic dieter who is used to things happening in a very mathematical way with immediate results. I get it! I was there.
And let’s not forget about all the times that you need to refuel yourself. This work, especially the deep work that is about karate-chopping your limiting false beliefs, changing your core values, and sucker-punching self-doubt where it hurts, requires you to self-care the hell out of yourself.
Self-care is so necessary in this journey.
Take plenty of moments to refill your own tank, because you cannot move if you are sitting on empty.
Of course there are always those moments where you’re in the mountains and your GPS doesn’t connect or your phone dies, and you have to pull over and ask others for help. The majority of people who are on this journey are not doing it alone; if you need help — get it. Ask for support, hire a coach, go to therapy, seek out a community with like-minded people.
You don’t have to walk this path alone and without a map: that's a great way to end up just running in circles and getting nowhere.
It’s OK to ask for help! I haven't done this alone, and my clients sure as hell don’t do it alone either.
I have seen so many people go down this journey and hit a pothole or get a flat tire and feel like they failed, messed up, or “just are not doing something right.” Don’t get tripped up by these things; you are human.
The only thing that makes the journey to self-love significantly different from a road trip is that there isn’t an endpoint. There isn’t a final destination, or a there. The journey to self-love is a continual practice that will most likely occur for the rest of your life, depending on where you're coming from.
I know that, for my part, I will be on this journey for life. I don't expect there will be a point at which I will NEVER think negatively of my body ever again. If I said promised you you will get to that point, I would just be selling you the same empty promise the health and fitness industry has sold you with their most recent “magic solution” diet.
And I am not about lying. We still live in a very fatphobic society, wrapped in diet culture. There are changes being made, but the reality is that we are not immune to the messages all the time. We all have our Achilles heel.
On top of that, if you are a chronic dieter or come from a place of disordered eating and body-hate, chances are you can’t just extract that part of your brain completely. Unfortunately, I don’t have one of those memory-erasers like Will Smith did in Men In Black.
(Note to self: Invent Neuralizer; save the world from diet culture and fatphobia.)
This isn’t meant to deter you! No, my friend; far from it. I just have seen so many people go down this journey and hit a pothole or get a flat tire and feel like they failed, messed up, or “just are not doing something right.”
Don’t get tripped up by these things; you are human. You are undoing and untangling a ton of messages, thoughts, and behaviors that have been your norm for years, probably.
Bumps, detours, and setbacks are going to happen, and those moments are precisely when you need a major dose of self-love and care. Lean on your support system, or get direction from someone else, and to remember that this all takes time.
And despite how beautifully messy this journey can be, please know it is so worth it.
Those hard moments do become less frequent and less painful, to the point where you don’t remember when the last time it was you thought critically about your body or what you were eating.
You also will have some superpower skills in your pocket to handle those bad body days, or self-doubt when it does pop up, so you don’t slip further down the rabbit-hole you're climbing out of.
In closing, I urge you to set your GPS to self-love.
Blast the music, dance your heart out, scream, shout, cry, roll the windows down, embrace the messy, and for the love of everything — keep fucking going.